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Archive for July 19th, 2009

‘Left, Right & Center’: Vetting Sotomayor, Sizing Up the GOP

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2009 4:46 am by HL

‘Left, Right & Center’: Vetting Sotomayor, Sizing Up the GOP

Left, Right & Center

This week’s show includes two Republicans filling in for Tony Blankley—Mike Murphy and John Henke—making this episode more like “Left, Right, Right & Center,” if you will. Robert Scheer joins them to weigh in about the Sotomayor hearings, the future of the GOP and what to do about the health care conundrum, among other lively topics.

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Michael Brenner: Obama and Health Care Reform: A Feckless Approach

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2009 4:45 am by HL

Michael Brenner: Obama and Health Care Reform: A Feckless Approach
Obama seems totally ignorant of the elementary truth that for a president to get what he wants from Congress, he has to wade in and twist arms.

Frank Dwyer: Political Haiku: Clown Sessions
No Supreme Court for Sonia? Then who does Jeff think is okay-kay-kay?…

US May Create Terror Interrogation Unit, Looking Into Alternative Interrogation Techniques: Official
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is considering creating a special unit of professional interrogators to handle key terror suspects, focusing on intelligence-gathering rather than building…

Stephen Kaus: Wolf Blitzer Should Ask Sen. Jefferson B. Sessions a Few Questions About Race
Hey Wolf Blitzer*. how about making some news? We have spent the past week listening to Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III condescend to Sonia…

New Interviews Show “Harsh” Interrogation Techniques Split Apart Officials Charged With Questioning
Now, as the Senate intelligence committee examines the CIA’s interrogation program, investigators are focusing in part on Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, former CIA contractors…


John V. Santore: Pallin’ around with the liberal media

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

John V. Santore: Pallin’ around with the liberal media

On Monday, Eric Boehlert highlighted Time‘s upcoming cover story on Sarah Palin, titled, “The Outsider: Where is Sarah Palin Going Next?” While Palin has certainly received her share of bad press, a great deal of it has been the inevitable result of her own statements and actions. Interpretive articles like this one, however, are different and provide journalists with the chance to use their judgment to put past actions and ongoing trials in a broader context that will help readers better understand the subject at hand.

Which is why this article is so problematic. In it, Time‘s David Von Drehle and Jay Newton-Small go to immense lengths to create a story out of thin air. In this case, it’s “The Renegade,” a tale about an unconventional politician making waves with her unpredictable behavior. The piece is deeply flawed, advancing conservative narratives without challenge and ignoring obvious realities about Palin, her home state, and the problems she faces. It’s an account that flies in the face not just of progressive criticisms of the governor, but of a growing chorus of conservative ones as well.

And it is exactly the kind of ratings-driven journalism that is, ironically, making magazines like Time less and less authoritative at a time when serious journalism couldn’t be more needed.

Fictions about Alaska

In order to allow themselves to argue that Palin’s decisions aren’t as bizarre as they seem to many observers around the country, the article’s authors begin by turning her home state into a land of mystery and wonder that inherently embraces the hands-off philosophy championed by the political right. Alaska is “remote, extreme, unfamiliar — and free.” It is a “land of self-invention, where no one bats an eye at a mom-deckhand-governor-whatever-comes-next.” We are told that in Alaska, “you make each day from the materials at hand.” The result of the unique realities confronting its citizens is an “ingrained frontier skepticism of authority — even one’s own.” Indeed, a “person learns in the Alaska vastness that humans can respond to events but never control them.”

Palin is, therefore, supposedly much like her homeland. She is “a modern-day version of the captive specimens hauled back to Europe by explorers of old,” someone who “remains, on some level, unknowable.” The conclusion becomes unavoidable. If you thought her resignation speech seemed strange, it’s just because you aren’t from Alaska, for “this was the place where her answer finally made sense.”

It isn’t helpful to offer a critique of the Alaskan ethos, which is entirely subjective. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t examine the idea that Alaska is an island unto itself, where people don’t need or want outsider help and where different norms and standards of behavior apply. The fact of the matter is that despite its physical isolation, Alaska isn’t independent of the lower 48 states at all. In fact, it is the nation’s number one recipient of federal earmarks, currently averaging more than $500 per person per year. Disgraced former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens became chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee for a reason, a position he held until 2006. In 2008, his last year in Congress, he secured more than $200 million dollars in earmarks in the defense appropriations bill alone, and his name was attached to more than $522 million dollars in total requests.

Nor was Palin opposed to this kind of federal intervention. Operating in a state famous for spreading the wealth around through revenue sharing, Palin followed Stevens’ lead. In 2008, she requested 31 federal earmarks totaling $197 million. The same principles applied regarding the “Bridge to Nowhere” that Palin claimed she rejected. The truth is that she didn’t want to turn the money down. Instead, she advocated using (another) $200 million in federal funds Stevens procured for it for a host of public works involving transportation. Going back even further, we find that while still mayor of Wasilla, Palin successfully obtained a total of $27 million dollars for her town of about 8,000.

So much for the idea that Alaskans passively “respond to events but never control them.”

Why does this matter? Because understanding how willing the authors are to begin from a false starting point allows us to better assess how far afield of serious analysis they plan to take us. Indeed, throughout the article, one dubious narrative leads to another. Consider one final related example: the idea that Alaska politicians have an “ingrained frontier skepticism of authority — even one’s own.” That certainly doesn’t apply to Palin, who, as Wasilla’s mayor, reportedly threatened to fire a librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, because she had refused to go along with a plan to censor library books at Palin’s whim. Anyone who argues that Alaska’s soon-to-be former governor is skeptical of authority is seeing what they want to see, not what’s in front of their eyes.

Fictions about American Politics

Many assessments of Palin’s relevancy with the voting public have hinged on her cultural appeal, and the Time piece is no different:

But for those who don’t get it, here’s a thumbnail sketch of her rightward appeal: For the pro-life movement, this cheerful mother of a Down-syndrome baby is a rousing affirmation. For the gun-rights movement, she’s a glamorous, moose-hunting shot of adrenaline. She hates on the media, never forgets the troops and is a walking middle finger to the BosNYWash élite. As Rush Limbaugh interrupted his vacation to declare, “She is going to continue to fire up people in the conservative Republican base as often as she speaks to them.”

Let’s set aside the fact that such assessments are simply stated without challenge; for example, apparently, there is a universal definition of “supporting the troops,” and Palin’s actions embody it. A question more relevant to an article about the governor’s political prospects is whether voters with priorities like these will become more or less prevalent in the years ahead.

Objective realities, such as the fact that Barack Obama was the choice of 66 percent of voters aged 18 to 29, seem to indicate that the answer is “no.” But Time draws the opposite conclusion. “Résumés ain’t what they used to be,” we are told. “[T]hey count only with people who trust credentials — a dwindling breed.” The authors imagine a future in which Palin “somehow channels this grim and possibly gathering sense that America’s institutions and authorities are no longer worthy of deference.” Without any sense of comparison, the piece notes that conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s most recent book is “selling like vampire lit” — a good thing, in this case.

All of these arguments are put forth in spite of the fact that nearly 70 million voters just “picked the lofty, cerebral liberal” for president, as the article concedes — a liberal with an exceptional Ivy League pedigree who ran a campaign focused on restoring faith and confidence in the government’s ability to tackle big problems.

Predictably, the essay soon attempts to advance a classic and easily disprovable conservative canard: that America is still a fundamentally conservative country wary of progressive ideas and programs:

A recent Gallup survey asked American adults whether they have become more conservative or more liberal in recent years, and the answer might suggest a bumpier road ahead for the Administration. Despite the Democratic sweep in 2008, “more conservative” prevailed 2 to 1. Being strong with the right is not a bad place for a woman of ambition to get started.

This often misinterpreted poll in and of itself proves only one thing: that more Americans think of themselves as conservative than think of themselves as liberal. This is the case largely because the terms themselves are fluid, as well as because the conservative onslaught against the liberal brand has been both relentless and effective. But when polled on an issue-by-issue basis, a clear majority of Americans support a wide array of progressive principles. While this reality isn’t hard to see, it is routinely ignored, as it was here, by those who are deliberately seeking to create a future tension-packed narrative that they can exploit for dramatic effect: Obama vs. Conservative America. That may be the stuff of summer movies, but it isn’t the stuff of serious political journalism.

Of course, building up the “Conservative America” side of that fight requires creating a fighter, and that’s exactly what Time is doing with articles like this one. No wonder, then, that Palin is quoted at length without any form of rebuttal, advocating what is deemed to be “a robust indictment of the Obama agenda.” An example:

“One thing reporters aren’t asking the Administration is … President Obama, how are you going to pay for this one- or two- or three-trillion-dollar health-care plan?”

It’s a transparently false statement, seeing as funding questions are routinely focused on by the press, but that fact isn’t mentioned by Time. And when she isn’t pushing the party line, the authors do it for her: “Suppose that the Obama Administration’s expansions of government don’t prove as popular — or successful — as Democrats hope,” they hypothesize. And again: “Democratic health-care proposals, [Palin] says, look increasingly like the ideas that McCain proposed during the campaign.”

By the time that Palin is allowed to pontificate on how President Obama’s “growth-of-government agenda needs to be ratcheted back,” there is no point in even asking if her assessment will be challenged. It won’t.

Fictions about Palin

Nor can we expect to receive any kind of serious evaluation of Palin herself.

To begin with, consider again the timing and premise of the article, pronounced so clearly by the image on the cover. This was written, after all, in response to the news that Palin is stepping down as governor of Alaska. We all know someone who has quit a job on principle. But elected officials are different. They are public servants, selected by the people to attempt to achieve a necessary set of goals. Nobody forced Sarah Palin to run for governor of Alaska. She chose to run, presumably because she felt that she could help her state. But now, we are being told that abandoning that responsibility and that trust makes her a renegade, instead of the opposite: an individual without the fortitude or commitment to see her work through when the going started to get tough. Many have rejected that logic — again, even conservatives. But not Time.

The article allows effusive praise to be heaped on Palin, rarely presenting a countervailing point of view. While conservative commentator Fred Barnes is mentioned as having “glumly” determined that Palin’s resignation has cost her a run for the White House, we are also regaled with the tale of the first meeting Barnes and William Kristol had with her. They are described as having been “delighted to have found a Republican fresh as a glacier breeze, seemingly tough as a sled dog, and unsullied by the internecine battles raging within the fracturing GOP.” Even her much-maligned resignation remarks were apparently a coup: “Sunlit against an Alaskan waterfront, it was as telegenic as her boffo acceptance speech.”

Investigations of Palin are portrayed as largely illegitimate, having “ranged from the bizarre … to the humiliating.” The only publication mentioned by name as having sent reporters to Alaska in order to investigate her past is the National Enquirer. Her assailants, in turn, are often pure political operatives. Credence is given to the view of Meg Stapleton, Palin’s spokeswoman, that, as the authors express it, “the anti-Palin offensive seems lifted straight from The Thumpin’, which describes the political strategies of Rahm Emanuel.” Indeed, they go even further, printing the governor’s argument that “enemies stirred up by her sudden prominence — and orchestrated, she believes, by the Obama White House — would bury her in unfounded ethics complaints.” No effort to investigate the veracity of this claim is made. What is more, the complaints themselves are painted as frivolous at best. “One complaint,” we are told, “was filed under a pseudonym borrowed from a British soap opera. Most were quickly dismissed.”

And, finally, if those behind what Time calls “silly-season attacks” aren’t vindictive Democratic politicos, then they’re simply clowns: “Despite rave reviews for her Republican National Convention speech, Palin soon became the target of late-night comics and snarky columnists.” No wonder, then, that she can’t help but respond when “the attack[s] involved family.” “In recent months,” the authors write, “she has been in an unseemly tussle with Levi Johnston,” not to mention her spat with David Letterman, after which “Palin demanded multiple apologies.”

All of this completely ignores a host of undeniable realities. First, Alaska is a state with serious corruption problems — so serious that Palin herself ran on a reformist platform. While Ted Stevens’ felony convictions were overturned this year because of prosecutorial misconduct, numerous other Alaska legislators and those associated with the state government have recently been convicted of crimes or are under investigation.

And while Palin has taken some praiseworthy steps in the name of responsible government, she is also dogged by well-deserved controversy. Her problematic involvement in the firing of Alaska state trooper Mike Wooten, her former brother-in law, was Exhibit A during the campaign. But beyond that, she has well-established difficulty telling the truth about her record. Combined with obvious examples of her questionable management style, it is impossible to argue that she shouldn’t be seriously investigated by legislators and journalists alike.

Nor is it true that only tabloids and comedians are after her. The New Yorker, The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, CNN, and numerous other major news outlets sent reporters to her home state during the campaign to assess the validity of the accusations she faced. Extensive reporting was also, of course, provided by the Anchorage Daily News.

And regarding her supposed righteous defensiveness when her family is insulted: Well, it should be easy to see that Palin played the fabricated Letterman controversy for all the publicity it was worth — not the reaction one would expect from a parent seeking to keep her family out of the news.

A Duty Unmet

The September 2008 New Yorker article linked to above mentioned a conversation between Time‘s Washington bureau chief and Nicolle Wallace, who was then a spokeswoman for the McCain campaign. As the magazine tells it:

On a talk show, the Washington bureau chief of Time told Nicole [sic] Wallace … that it was still unclear whether Palin was ready “to answer tough questions about domestic policy, foreign policy.” Wallace laughed. “Like from who? From you?” And she asked, “Who cares if she can talk to Time magazine?”

This shows the kind of reverence Time still commands. The McCain campaign was, by its own admission, “not about the issues.” And, so, its top people thought that it should steer clear of hard-hitting journalism.

But articles like “The Outsider” make such caution appear to be either a misjudgment or a rouse, indeed, flipping the question on its head: not why would Palin talk to Time, but why wouldn’t she?

Time has a circulation of more than 525,000. It has nearly 1.9 million readers, and its stories are covered by countless other publications and news programs. It is a platform most political commentators and analysts can only dream of. The magazine has, therefore, an immense responsibility — and an immense opportunity — to provide serious journalism to the public. “The Outsider” is an example of the opposite: faulty reasoning and superficial reporting packaged as edgy analysis, all done in the name of entertainment, not investigation. It’s a story that has become all too common.

The article is also a perfect example of how conservatives work to exploit the “liberal media” that Palin has made such a point of deriding. The strategy is simple: attack with one hand, infiltrate with the other. Unfortunately, that’s just politics. But it doesn’t mean the media needs to go along with it. Rather, it has a duty to the public to resist, and to maintain the objectivity and seriousness of a truly free press.

“Cut loose from her obligations to her huge and awesome homeland,” Time concludes, “[Palin’s] message remains quintessentially Alaskan. Where she comes from — the last American frontier — the past is irrelevant, the rules are suspended, and limitations are for losers.”

That may define the psychological landscape of some residents of Alaska, but it shouldn’t describe the landscape of the American media.

John Santore is an associate at Media Matters for America (www.mediamatters.org), a progressive media watchdog, research, and information center based in Washington, D.C.


Congress To Probe Secret CIA Program

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Congress To Probe Secret CIA Program
Rep. Silvestre Reyes, who chairs the House Intelligence committee, has announced an investigation into the secret CIA program that Leon Panetta recently ended, and which Dick Cheney reportedly ordered kept secret from Congress. From Reyes’s statement: After careful consideration and…

CIA Gets Extension Until Aug 24 On Torture Report
The Obama administration’s request to delay releasing a key report on torture has reportedly been granted. According to Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent, a judge has said the CIA can have until August 24 to release the declassified version…


Origins of ‘The Family’ AKA Flying Spaghetti Monster Christians

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2009 4:39 am by HL

Origins of ‘The Family’ AKA Flying Spaghetti Monster Christians
Nikolas Kozloff: C Street Family — Sex Scandals, Moral Hypocrisy, and Far Right Agenda in Central America Buzzflash.com, July 10, 2009


"Abstinence Plus": Soothing to Parents, or Still Lying to Teens?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

"Abstinence Plus": Soothing to Parents, or Still Lying to Teens?
Will abstinence-only programs continue to get funding to misinform kids about sex?

"Abstinence Plus": Soothing to Parents, or Still Lying to Teens?
Will abstinence-only programs continue to get funding to misinform kids about sex?


Change Congress

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Change Congress
If ever there was a reason to support the Change Congress organization, it was in three stories in today’s paper. Larry Lessig and his partners have maintained since the start of their campaign to change the campaign financing system, that…


Sponsored Topics: Change CongressLawrence LessigCampaign financeJohn BoehnerJohn Kerry

The Tragedy of the Crocs Company Demise
The WaPo reported that the company making Crocs is going down and Rob Horning, Patrick Appel and Ezra Klein are treating this as the just desserts for an ugly shoe that representing a fad in the bubble.? But while the…


Sponsored Topics: Ezra KleinWashington PostCrocsClothingFootwear


Prior to the Invasion of Iraq, America Was Like a Runaway Train

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Prior to the Invasion of Iraq, America Was Like a Runaway Train

I will still submit that State of War: The Secret History of the CIA And the Bush Administration by James Risen is a great book, one that I’ve highly recommended. It is simply one of the best books I’ve read about the Bush administration in the last three or four years. I keep referring to that book over and over again. The book recounts a number of scenarios that the CIA tried prior to the invasion of Iraq in order to really delineate whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. One of those efforts focused on an anesthesiologist named Dr. Sawsan Alhaddad. Her brother was a nuclear weapons scientist who worked on weapons of mass destruction for Saddam Hussein. The CIA actually flew her to Baghdad in September 2002. She spoke with her brother in person and on the telephone. He told her in no uncertain terms that there was no nuclear program. In all, the CIA flew more than 30 people to Iraq in order to meet with their family members. All of them came back with the same information, that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

It appears that the intelligence community actually did their jobs. They actually tried to find out the answer. There was no failure of intelligence but a failure of leadership.

From across the pond, Britain’s own MI6 had a meeting with the head of Iraqi intelligence prior to our invasion. Michael Shipster, of MI6, met with the head of Iraqi intelligence, Tahir Jalil Habbush, who gave the British everything that they needed to know. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein was worried about his image in the region. He was also worried about Iran and other competitors in the region. All of this information was immediately passed to the White House. All of this is recounted in Ron Suskind’s book, The Way of the World.

So, the White House “knew” that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction prior to the invasion. They had information from multiple sources which stated that Saddam Hussein was not reconstituting a nuclear, biological or chemical weapons program. Yet we still went to war. Why? Don’t President Bush and Vice President Cheney need to answer this question in front of the American people? With over 4300 Americans dead, shouldn’t Bush and Cheney have to say something to us and to the families of those who have died beause of these actions?

Update from Political Animal:

Fester at Newhoggers links to a set of right-wing bloggers’ predictions for 2003. It’s pretty stunning. For instance:

If we go into Iraq, how many casualties do you expect to see (on the side of the US and our allies)
John Hawkins: “Probably 300 or less”
Charles Johnson:”Very few”
Henry Hanks: “Less than 200”
Laurence Simon: “A Few hundred”
Rachael Lucas: “Less than three thousand”
Scott Ott: “Dozens”
Glenn Reynolds: “Fewer than 100”
Tim Blair: “Below 50”
Ken Layne: “a few hundred”
Steven Den Beste: “50-150”

More from another pre-war interview with Tim Blair:

“John Hawkins: If and when do you see the United States hitting Iraq? How do you think it’ll work out?
Tim Blair: It all depends on Iraqi’s fearsome Elite Republican Guard. Why, those feisty desert warriors could hold out for minutes. Dozens of US troops will be required. Perhaps they’ll even need their weapons.”


TP?s Igor Volsky Debates Medicaid Opponent On MSNBC

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

TP?s Igor Volsky Debates Medicaid Opponent On MSNBC
This morning on MSNBC, Igor Volsky, the Wonk Room’s health care blogger and co-author of Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Health Care Reform, defended President Obama’s health care proposal. When host Chris Jansing argued that the Congressional Budget Office is predicting that health care reform would “increase long-term costs facing the government,” Igor noted that […]

This morning on MSNBC, Igor Volsky, the Wonk Room’s health care blogger and co-author of Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Health Care Reform, defended President Obama’s health care proposal. When host Chris Jansing argued that the Congressional Budget Office is predicting that health care reform would “increase long-term costs facing the government,” Igor noted that the CBO released a statement last night stating that the House bill would be deficit-neutral (and even produces a $6 billion surplus).

Igor debated Robert Goldberg, the president of the industryfunded Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. Towards the end of the segment, Goldberg attacked Igor, saying, “I can’t believe I’m hearing a liberal think tank support systematically restricting minorities from access to quality care.” Igor noted that “no one is restricting minorities, Robert — what are you talking about?” Goldberg revealed that his real problem is that he hates Medicaid:

GOLDBERG: If you’re a Medicaid recipient, you are not allowed to take a voucher and go to a plan that you think is good for you. You are forced to stay into Medicaid. Do you think that’s right or wrong? Yes or no?

IGOR: I think Medicaid provides essential services for many Americans that the private market simply can’t provide, which is why we’re expanding Medicaid. … It’s not putting people into Medicaid against their will.

Igor also noted that the motive behind including a public health insurance option for all Americans is to ensure everyone is given access to a solid benefits plan regardless of their income or class. Watch it:

DeMint?s discourse: Government is fascist, says he will ?break? Obama and cause the Senate ?pain.?
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is ratcheting up his anti-Obama rhetoric. On a call with right-wing activists yesterday afternoon, he proudly proclaimed that he aims to “break” the President by defeating health reform. He also said recently that he prefers to cause “pain” to his fellow legislators rather than working on reform. And while promoting his […]

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is ratcheting up his anti-Obama rhetoric. On a call with right-wing activists yesterday afternoon, he proudly proclaimed that he aims to “break” the President by defeating health reform. He also said recently that he prefers to cause “pain” to his fellow legislators rather than working on reform. And while promoting his new book on the G. Gordon Liddy show yesterday, DeMint agreed with Gordon — who ironically has a history of expressing sympathetic views to Nazis — that Obama has created a government like that under Hitler:

LIDDY: But there’s something else that I remember because I’m a lot older than you are and it’s called national socialism and that’s where the government allows private people to continue to own industrial capacity and what have you but tells them what they may — must do with it. You know, you will make Messerschmidts, etc. That was national socialism. That seems to me the way we’re going.

DEMINT: You’re right we’ve got national socialism, national paternalism and our form of socialism seems more benign than the classical form that we noted in Europe.

Listen here:

This isn’t the first time DeMint has used this incorrect analogy. As Matt Yglesias previously wrote, “Look, comparing your domestic political rivals to Nazis is a time-honored tradition. But confusing the Nazis and Germany’s Social Democrats is a scandal. The Social Democrats were the main source of opposition to Hitler at a time when the Communists were bizarrely maintaining that there was no difference between the two and the mainstream parties of the center-right decided that it made sense to form a tactical alliance with Hitler. Social Democrats stand for a generous welfare state and active labor market policies. Nazis try to conquer the world and send people to the gas chamber.”


For Republican Haley Barbour, Party and Personal Goals Coincide

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 19th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

For Republican Haley Barbour, Party and Personal Goals Coincide
BILOXI, Miss., July 18 — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was Republican National Committee chairman the last time his party was at such a low, after the election of 1992. Two years later, Republicans captured control of Congress, and although Newt Gingrich, who became the new House speaker, got much…

Interviews Offer Look at Roles of CIA Contractors During Interrogations
In April 2002, as the terrorism suspect known as Abu Zubaida lay in a Bangkok hospital bed, top U.S. counterterrorism officials gathered at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., for a series of meetings on an urgent problem: how to get him to talk.

Liberalism Had Little Presence in Sotomayor Hearings
Early on the third day of last week’s confirmation hearings, one of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s leading liberals leaned forward in his leather chair toward Sonia Sotomayor to explain his hopes for the next member of the nation’s highest court.